PX70 – How dumb do you think we are?

I was excited as the next person when the impossible project came out with it’s first film, Silver Shade.  Being able to buy new film to use in my classic SX-70, and black and white at that, was a dream come true.  A dream until I actually used some.  I was disappointed with all the necessary steps to make it work (develop in the dark, store at a certain humidity, cut slits to improve the lasting of the pictures), when the original polaroid film had none of these issues and was cheaper.  I realize that they have overcome great odds to create this not quite perfect film, but this is similar to me trying to build a car from scratch: with enough time and money I could probably make one work, but it wouldn’t be very good and I wouldn’t be able to sell it for much.  What really struck me with the impossible project is that they are selling largely untested products, and we the consumers are paying to test the product for them to improve in future iterations (sounds a bit like the Microsoft Windows model…)

Checking out the impossible project website this week, I was briefly excited to see PX70, the new colour polaroid film for sale.  I had heard rumours that this new film had been given out to world class photographers who had extensively tested it out.  I headed over to their gallery to see what kind of gems this new film had produced, and to my horror, the film was absolutely terrible!  The pictures are all low contrast and so un-saturated that they are practically monochrome!!!  It’s suggested that the film is “reminiscent of expired time zero film”. No it’s not.  I have used plenty of this, and even shot over-exposed on the SX-70 it had a whole lot more colour than these do.

On their FAQ for this new film, under “Why are my pictures not very colourful” they post this reply:

  • The PX 70 First Flush materials color characteristics are very dependent on good lighting conditions. The more light you are shooting in the more colorful your pictures will get. Furthermore, the First Flush Edition is from the very production run at our Impossible factory in Enschede and provides a first taste of our expanding Color Shade universe. The first version of the highly complex color system that we used in this production run produces images that are reminiscent of expired Polaroid Time Zero film material. First samples of upcoming PX 70 generations already promise a much wider color palette.

Provides a first taste? ie. it’s not really ready yet, but we made a bunch and screwed up so we’re going to sell it to you the sucker of a consumer so that we don’t have to throw it all in the garbage…

The upcoming generation promises a wider colour palette? ie. the next batch isn’t great either, but it’s better than the first. Hopefully we’ll get it right someday…

Interestingly enough, they have a Pioneer Card Reward System which gives you points for every pack of film you buy to be redeemed at a later date.  On this page they actually state:

For all our customers who don’t want to wait until our films are perfect

That’s all of us!!! We’re all the guinea pigs, not just those who sign up for this ridiculous reward system.

End of Rant.

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Silver Shade PX100 Impossible Project Review

It’s been a while since I bought the box of Px100 at Prophot, but I had just put a cartridge of 600 film in the old SX-70 so I wasn’t in a hurry to use them up.  I don’t believe in using a filter for the 600 film, so I stick to cloudy overcast days when the film over-exposes, but doesn’t blow out completely (as it does on sunny days).  I like the look that it gives, some would call it “vintage”.  This PX100 is Silver Shade, and not the “first flush” variety sold earlier on.

After reading up on the Impossible website all the do’s and don’ts for this film, I was ready to take some shots.  While I think it’s fantastic that this film has been produced, it’s interesting that it’s far from perfect, and even seems to be in more of a development stage, with us the customers being the guinea pigs (at our expense too!).  So although you may have already read this, after taking the shot you need to immediately cover the exiting polaroid with your hand (or some other object) to keep the light from striking it.  It then needs to develop in a dark location.  On top of this, the film needs to be used between 17-24 degrees celsius.  Finally, they are now mentioning some “crystal” problems where you get funny marks on the edges of the pictures, they advise using a desiccant, and in fact now provide it with new boxes of the film.

Here for comparison are (from left to right) : first shot with PX100, shot with expired 600, and second shot with PX100.  When I left the apartment, the temperature was only 15 degrees, however the film and camera had been stored in the apartment which was in the low 20’s, and I kept the camera in my bag until I was ready to shoot.  I immediately covered the shot with my hand on both and then put it in my messenger bag while it developed.  The picture is a bit hard to see, however you’ll notice that although it is a black and white photo, it does have a slight sepia tone, and that there is very little contrast.  The photos are also not very sharp. My wife mentioned that it looked very “vintage”.

I liked the pictures, and was happy they turned out as it seems some have had far less luck than I have, however I would have liked more contrast.  So later in the day I took a yellow filter from my Bessa R and held it in front of the camera while I took the shot.  To be fair, I did not compensate with the brightness dial, however as you can see in the picture above, it did nothing to increase contrast, in fact it might have actually reduced it.  The photo also got even more of a toned look.  I would have thought that on a bright sunny day the yellow filter would have helped things out, but apparently not.  I would have liked to experiment more, but the film costs about 2 euros/shot, so I’m not game to waste anymore film.

Looking back at one of the photos later in the day (8 hrs.) I noticed these strange marks on the side of the picture. They look similar to the “killer crystals” that they talk about on the Impossible website that are due to humidity, but I find that hard to believe that this was caused by humidity as it’s fairly dry around here right now.  I’m hoping this doesn’t spread further across the photo, but only time will tell.

So in summary, it’s great to have more film to use with my SX-70, but the quality isn’t all that great (not too sharp an image, low contrast).  The lack of sharpness isn’t a whole lot different from the old 600 film, so this could be related to the camera I guess.  The fact that the film is so finicky, and that the early adopters are paying for Impossible’s research and development, I can’t say I’m over the moon pleased with the product.  Finally I feel the price is reasonable, however the shipping charges can be astronomical depending where you live (I as lucky to get it in a store).

Impossible Project – PX100 Silver Shade

While at negatif+ the other day, I managed to pick up some PX100, the new black and white polaroid film.  I’d been excited to try some however the shipping to Canada is ridiculous.  Waiting till Paris I managed to pick some up for 16 euros, not too bad.

I haven’t had a chance to try it yet as I had just loaded one of my last cartridges of colour 600 film into my SX-70, and with 7 frames to go, I’d rather not rush it!  This film is of the latest batch (not First Flush), so hopefully I’ll get some better results than what some were first reporting.

Of Cameras and Paris…

This is a re-post from 99 days in Paris.  With our recent move to Paris I spent the day exploring the film possibilities of this city.  Read on to see my results.

I didn’t bother buying any more film before we left as I had discovered that it was much cheaper in Paris.  Roger had suggested Prophot as an excellent place to buy film, and he wasn’t joking!  While the camera stores in Calgary have a very limited selection, this store sold ONLY film and photo papers and chemicals, that’s it.  The selection was astonishing, I didn’t have to buy the only film they had, I actually had a choice.

They were even selling black and white slide film, although I didn’t get any as I wasn’t sure where it could be developed.  I did however pick up a roll of PX100 Impossible Project film (for polaroid).  This is the new polaroid film that has just reached the market and is now in black and white!

I then headed over to Negatif+, a store that specializes in pro film developing.  While in line I was chatting with the man behind me.  I told him how great the film selection was in Paris and that you could get nothing like this in Canada.  He told me that this was only common in Paris, and was getting worse and worse.  Too bad, I thought maybe Paris was reversing the trend!

Should have some pics back in a couple of days to post on the blog…